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Betting On Hoops? Cappers Picks NBA Power Rankings Week 18

2014-15 NBA Handicapping

The 2014-15 NBA season is 18 weeks old, which means the playoffs are right around the corner. As we enter March, a few questions come to mind. For starters: Can the Chicago Bulls compete with a sidelined Derrick Rose? Also: Who do you trust more in the East, Cleveland or Atlanta?

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Then there’s maybe the biggest question of all: Will the struggling New York Knicks even win another game without Carmelo Anthony? All of this will be answered soon, but for now, we rank all 30 teams based on their performance over the past two weeks.
Here are the power rankings for the 18th week of the NBA schedule.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers (37-23)

The Cleveland Cavaliers have finally arrived. Kevin Love is playing better, LeBron James is healthy and Kyrie Irving is proving that he can be both a scorer and a distributor (as we’ve seen in years past) even with two stars on his side — not to mention an unconscious shooter like J.R. Smith.

Simply put: This is the Cavaliers team we all thought we were getting. They’ve won seven of their last 10, and between Jan. 12 and Feb. 5, they won 12 straight.

Look for the Cavaliers to emerge as the favorites out East — especially with Derrick Rose set to miss some time.

2. Golden State Warriors (45-11)

I know we’re nearing the end of the season, but it’s still incredible to sit back and watch this team play. First-year head coach Steve Kerr has done a miraculous job getting the team to play efficiently on offense without losing its defensive identity, and as long as the core group can stay healthy, Golden State will be a contender all the way through the playoffs.

3. Atlanta Hawks (46-12)

With the second-best record in the NBA, the Atlanta Hawks have landed in the No. 3 spot on our list. The question that everyone wants to know, though, is: Is this team for real?

So far, they’ve had no trouble whatsoever running through the East. They’ve proven that five-man basketball doesn’t require a superstar, but you have to wonder how they’ll play in the postseason when superstars thrive.

4. Houston Rockets (40-18)

The Houston Rockets have something only a handful of NBA teams have: A legitimate MVP candidate.

So far this season, James Harden has showed out to the tune of 27 points, seven assists, 5.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game. He’s done wonders for a team that has only seen Dwight Howard play 32 games, and he’s the reason this group has overachieved after a disappointing offseason.

5. Oklahoma City Thunder (32-27)

How does a fringe playoff team make the top five in our power rankings? Just ask Russell Westbrook.

Westbrook, the ultra-athletic 26-year-old point guard, had a historical month. He became a triple-double machine, he made up for Kevin Durant’s absence and he helped the team win 7 of its last 10 despite dropping two straight at the end of that streak.

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6. Memphis Grizzlies (41-16)

The Memphis Grizzlies are likely a top-five team this season; however, they haven’t been as hot as the five teams ahead of them on this list.

In their last 10 games, the Grizzlies have gone 4-6. Unfortunately, they’ve dropped their last two — one to the contending Los Angeles Clippers and one to the lowly Sacramento Kings.

7. Portland Trail Blazers (38-19)

The Portland Trail Blazers fell off the map a bit after the All-Star break, losing their first two contests to the Utah Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies. Rip City, however, has recovered nicely. After defeating the San Antonio Spurs on ESPN Wednesday night, the team was back on ESPN and took down the Oklahoma City Thunder 115-112.

8. Los Angeles Clippers (38-21)

The Los Angeles Clippers have hit both ups and downs in Blake Griffin’s absence. They won four straight against the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs and Sacramento Kings, then dropped two straight to Houston and the Memphis Grizzlies. Luckily, this group found a way to exact revenge on Memphis Friday evening, hopefully giving them momentum going into a stretch that has them on the road for five of their next seven.

9. Dallas Mavericks (39-21)

The Dallas Mavericks are extremely talented, but chemistry is going to be the question mark moving forward. The recent on-court confrontation between Rajon Rondo and Rick Carlisle will either bring this team closer together through better communication, or it could create a division between play callers.

10. Chicago Bulls (37-22)

At 37-22, the Chicago Bulls have won seven of their last 10. Not bad, right?

Unfortunately, the news of Derrick Rose’s torn meniscus makes this group a hard team to bet on — even if the point guard is tentatively going to be back in action for the playoffs.

The Rest

  • 11. Toronto Raptors (37-21)
  • 12.  Milwaukee Bucks (32-36)
  • 13. San Antonio Spurs (35-23)
  • 14. New Orleans Pelicans (31-27)
  • 15. Indiana Pacers (24-34)
  • 16. Washington Wizards (33-26)
  • 17. Phoenix Suns (31-28)
  • 18. Miami Heat (25-32)
  • 19. Charlotte Hornets (23-33)
  • 20. Brooklyn Nets (23-33)
  • 21. Boston Celtics (23-33)
  • 22. Detroit Pistons (23-35)
  • 23. Utah Jazz (22-35)
  • 24. Sacramento Kings (20-36)
  • 25. Orlando Magic (19-41)
  • 26. Denver Nuggets (20-38)
  • 27. Los Angeles Lakers (16-41)
  • 28. Minnesota Timberwolves (13-44)
  • 29. Philadelphia 76ers (13-45)
  • 30. New York Knicks (11-46)

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